18 October 2012

It's reveal day for the Improv Challenge.  The premise of this challenge is easy: each month there are two assigned ingredients.  The participants must make a recipe using both ingredients and blog about it.

This month's ingredients kind of threw me for a loop.  Oatmeal and raisins.  Sure there are tons of recipes out there containing oatmeal and raisins, but probably 75% of them are cookies and the other 24% are muffins, breads, pancakes, etc.  You know how I love taking on the challenge of using typically sweet ingredients in a savory application (remember lemons and sour cream, cherries and almonds, and peanut butter and jelly?), and this month was no exception.  After much searching, I finally found a savory oat recipe that I wanted to try.  And it involved acorn squash, which is perfect for this time of year.  It's from the blog Diet, Dessert, and Dogs, but this recipe isn't on the blog anywhere, it's posted in a note on the blog's Facebook page.  I made a few small changes; here's my version.

Savory Oat-Stuffed Squash

One acorn squash, cut in half, seeds scooped out (wash and save the seeds)
1½ cups vegetable broth 
½ cup steel cut or old fashioned oats
1 tsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
⅓ cup pecan chips, toasted
¼ cup raisins, chopped
½ tsp garam masala
Salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 350°. Place the squash, cut side up, in a baking dish.  Place the seeds in a single layer in a small pan that’s been lined with parchment or foil.  Bake the seeds until just browned; bake the squash until the flesh is soft, about 35 minutes.  Allow to cool.

Meanwhile, bring the vegetable broth to a boil in a small pot.  Add the oats, cover, and simmer until all the liquid is absorbed, 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. In a small skillet, sauté the garlic and shallot in the oil over medium-low heat until the shallot begins to soften.  Add the garlic and onions (including any oil) to the cooked oats, along with the pecan chips, raisins,  and garam masala. Stir to combine well.  Taste for seasoning, adding salt if necessary.

Scoop out some of the squash flesh, leaving a border of about 1” all around.  Add the scooped squash to the oats and mash a bit to break it up and blend well.  Mound the oat mixture in the squash cavities and top with a sprinkling of the baked squash seeds (save the rest for snacks).  Bake in preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, until heated through.  

Makes 2 servings.

This recipe is vegetarian, and vegan.

Changes I made: First, I added the raisins.  Not just so that it would fit with this challenge, but I thought some little pops of sweetness with the savory oats would be great.  And it was.  I also used shallot instead of green onion.  I'm not a big fan of cooked green onions; I prefer them raw as a garnish, so I thought shallot would work better in this role.  I decreased the garam masala a bit.  I didn't actually do the last step listed in the directions, about scooping out some of the squash and adding it to the oat mixture.  As you can see above, my squash already had a 1" border, so I was afraid to remove some for fear that it would collapse on itself.  So I just put the stuffing in there the way it was.  The only bad thing about that was that it made less of the stuffing and I didn't have enough for both halves to be nice and rounded like the one in the picture.  And my acorn squash were quite large too.  So next time I might make the recipe times one and a half.

Also, I toasted my seeds in the toaster oven instead of with the squash in the regular oven.  Did you know that they pop like popcorn?  After a few minutes, they started popping all over the place!  My kids thought it was great fun to see them popping all over the toaster oven.

I loved this savory oat stuffing! I had never had savory oats before, so I didn't really know what to expect.  It was so good!  I seriously think I could eat this stuff for breakfast!  I love the flavor of the garlic and shallot, the crunch of the pecans, and the little bursts of sweetness here and there with the raisins.  Ever since I made it, I've been trying to think of other things I can stuff this "stuffing" into!  I even think it would be good with a roasted chicken.

Once again, I am thankful to the Improv Challenge for getting me to try something I normally wouldn't have.  Be sure to check out the other oatmeal and raisin recipes below, and come back next month to see what I made with sweet potatoes and honey.

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  1. Oh! How gorgeous is that presentation!?!
    Do the squash seeds taste like pepitas?

  2. This is SO clever! I couldn't figure out an oatmeal/raisin combo that wasn't a muffin/bread/cookie but you did - I'm totally going to make this - thanks for sharing!

  3. Lesa, this looks scrumptious! I always wondered what squash sees would taste like, but have never tried to cook them. Very creative!

  4. Thanks, Chellie! They were pretty tasty and provided great crunch.

  5. I love that you went savory with this instead of sweet.

  6. Way to rock the creativity, Lesa! I was certain this challenge would be full of cookies and bread...but I was surprised with the variety! Your squash sounds delish!

  7. What a lovely change of pace from the usual way I serve acorn squash, with brown sugar and a dab of butter in the center (love your photo too)!

  8. Oh man. I love acorn squash, and this stuffing with it looks absolutely amazing! Can`t wait to try this!

  9. Oh, I knew someone would come up with something savory! This looks so tasty...great idea! :)

  10. I am thrilled that you went savory! What a great dish for this time of year, too.

  11. This look teriffic.What a great fall recipe. Mimi

  12. Thanks, Liz! I thought the variety was great too. Such a fun challenge.

  13. I like it that way too, but it's always fun to mix it up! Thanks for the compliment on my photo. That plate was made in Hawaii out of traditional wood. I got it at a garage sale this summer for 75 cents. I thought the shape was perfect for this dish.